A Brazilian Super Tucano aircraft was seen at Jacksonville International Airport (JIA) in Florida on Sunday. The light attack/trainer aircraft would be assembled there if Embraer seals the deal on a contract with the U.S. Department of Defense.
The company hopes to win a defense contract to build a new aircraft in Jacksonville. An announcement about the possible selection is expected by June 2011. If the $950 million is approved, Embraer would invest $3.8 million in a vacant 40,000-square foot hangar at JIA to assemble the Super Tucano aircraft. News4JAX reports.
The Super Tucano aircraft are in use by seven air forces around the world. The aircraft was originally designed for training missions, can be converted into a light attack aircraft which can carry several bombs and has a .50-caliber machine gun in each wing. It has seen extensive use against narcotics cartels in Colombia. It also has surveillance equipment for intelligence gathering, law enforcement and disaster relief. The Super Tucano is competing against the U.S. made Hawker Beechcraft AT-6, positioned for use with the U.S. Air Forces’ LAAR program, as well as covert operations supporting the special operations community.
U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw of Jacksonville, who sits on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said the plane is designed with operations in Afghanistan and Iran in mind.
“I’ve been to Afghanistan a couple of time and I’ve seen firsthand the need for a sort of light-attack aircraft,” Crenshaw said. “And walking up and taking a firsthand look, I see why our Navy SEALs are so in love with that kind of equipment.”